Mexican Man Awarded $550k Over Pot-Laden SUV Sold By US Customs
Posted Aug 19, 2008 11:53 AM CDT
By Martha Neil
A Mexican man who was convicted and jailed in his home country after a search revealed that the SUV he and his business partner had purchased at a U.S. Customs auction was stuffed with marijuana, has been awarded more than $550,000 in compensation.
Francisco Javier Rivera Agredano and the partner spent more than a year in jail in Mexico after soldiers at a mandatory checkpoint found 17 kilograms or marijuana in the Nissan Pathfinder's upholstery, doors and sides, reports the Daily Journal (sub. req.). Although Rivera's attorney offered expert evidence at trial that the marijuana, which was old and dry, had been in the car at least a year, he was convicted of possessing illegal narcotics and sentenced to five years. He was released early, after prevailing on appeal.
A lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Diego, which sought damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation and related warranty and consumer claims, was found to be barred by the Federal Tort Claims Act, because the incident complained of didn't occur in this country. However, Judge Emily Hewitt of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims awarded him $550,854 last month in a similar lawsuit, finding that "plaintiff's physical and mental health problems, financial woes and the costs incurred by his family are all direct and foreseeable results of defendant's breach" and that hence the government is responsible for the costs related to his imprisonment.
Rivera's business partner has been less successful in court, and has been awarded nothing, although further relief is being sought in Congress for both men.
Attorney Teresa Trucchi of San Diego represented Rivera. She tells the legal publication that she expects the government to appeal.